The Nordics have a global reputation for being some of the most expensive countries in the world. So, if you're interested in taking a deep dive into the "real" living costs of Finland, you've come to the right place. Despite Finland being the least costly among the Nordic countries, the cost of living may be higher than what you're used to in your home country. In this blog, we will cover the most important aspects to consider when calculating your living costs.
Price of accommodation
Accommodation can easily be the biggest monthly expense. If you're an international student planning to come to Finland, student housing is a very convenient and affordable option.
For those who are not eligible for student housing, one would need to find an apartment in the private market. Several websites, such as Oikotie, Etuovi, and Vuokraovi, are dedicated to private housing. Keep in mind that it's standard practice for apartments to require a deposit of 1-2 months' rent. Also, be sure to enquire in advance whether the rent is inclusive of water, electricity, and internet. Utility prices hiked during 2022 at different rates based on providers. Choosing inexpensive accommodation by learning more about the neighbourhoods of your city or finding someone to share accommodation with can help keep your accommodation costs to a minimum.
Price of food
The next essential expense to take into consideration is the cost of food and groceries. Several grocery store chains in Finland include Lidl, K market, S market, and Prisma. Lidl stores are the most affordable choice, while stores like K market and Prisma have a wider selection of items. The price per meal is cheapest when one cooks at home, and meal prepping for a few days or a week at a time can be efficient both time-wise and cost-wise. Budgeting tips also include downloading the Lidl app and getting other bonus cards to collect points and discounts as well as saving all cans and bottles and recycling them.
On the other hand, eating out in Finland is on the costlier side and can add up quickly. For example, at the time of preparing this blog, the cost of an appetizer is between 10 and 15€, and a main course dish can be between 20-40€ depending on the type of food and restaurant of choice. In a nutshell, one restaurant bill can easily be equal to one week's worth of groceries.
Price of transportation
Transportation costs depend on the mode of transport. If you're interested in opting for a car, there are costs such as insurance, parking fees, and other liabilities to take into account. You might want to carefully plan which costs are one-time and which ones are recurring beforehand. Finnish cities are well-connected with public transportation as well, so one can usually get by without a car. There are public buses in all Finnish cities, while cities such as Tampere and Helsinki are also connected by tram. Capital region neighbouring cities, i.e. Helsinki, Vantaa, and Espoo, are additionally connected by local trains and metro.
The minimal cost of transportation, such as using a monthly bus card, costs between 30-60€ based on the city (38€ for student bus card and 55€ regular bus card in Turku in 2023). Many also opt to skip paying public transportation fees and commute by bicycle or scooters, especially during the summer months.
While the aforementioned categories likely account for a big fraction of living costs, there are other expenses such as clothes, furniture, gym memberships, and more. The cost of clothing very much depends on the brand and store, but there are plenty of choices available at different price ranges. Finland also has many thrift stores where one can find inexpensive clothes as well as home items and furniture. Many newcomers opt for furniture from recycling center stores (like Ekotori) or Ikea, as they offer wallet-friendly options. You can also consider joining local Facebook groups that are dedicated to buying and selling. Gym memberships cost an average of 50€ per month, while student gym memberships cost a fraction of the price. Last but not least, the price of a beer is somewhere between 6 – 12€, depending on the location.
Salaries in Finland
Salaries vary greatly in Finland based on industry and experience level. In 2022, the minimum wage for cleaning jobs and construction started at €11.2 per hour. Students usually work jobs in the cleaning, service, and hospitality industries where the hourly wages vary between 11€ and 15€ depending on the company. For individuals with a study residence permit, one is allowed to work a maximum of 30 hours a week or 120 hours a month. This can give you an idea of how much you can earn while studying, and if it’s enough to sustain yourself. For full-time work, the median salary in Finland surpassed 3300€ in 2022. While Finland’s median income is above the European average, this doesn’t necessarily provide a full picture since purchasing power varies between different countries.
The true cost of living depends on numerous factors including lifestyle and location. If you’re planning to move to the capital region of Finland, you should take into account the higher living costs. The minimum funds required by Migri for a student resident permit are 560€ per month, whereas the financial requirements for bringing a family member, if one is granted a resident permit, is a minimum of 1000€ per month. In conclusion, the cost of living can be on the expensive side in Finland, but with some financial planning and a decent salary, it’s possible to live comfortably.